By all accounts, Aldon Smith is having a superman TC so far. That’s the good news. The bad news is multiple reports are predicting a six to eight game suspension for the 2014 season.
The silver lining news is that he’ll be back for the second half of the season and the playoffs. Wreaking havoc on opposing offenses — if he stays in shape and out of trouble. Without him and Navorro Bowman, the 49er defense will be a notch or two below its best during the first half of the season.
A whopping 21 guys are currently on the team from the 2013 and 2014 draft classes. And none of them look to be in danger of getting cut this year. That’s some pretty good drafting by GM Trent Baalke.
Of this group, several are poised to become household names over the coming years: Eric Reid, Tank Carradine, Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Quinton Dial, Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton, and the next Bill Ring type overachiever Chris Borland. The franchise is in good hands these days.
With the exception of Colin Kaepernick, however, the core leadership of the team was assembled by former GM Scot McCloughan. Frank Gore, Joe Staley, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Ray McDonald, Justin Smith, and Patrick Willis. A couple of these may well be in their final year here, but the rest still have several good years remaining.
The team has three new starters in the secondary this year (Chris Culliver, Antoine Bethea, Jimmie Ward) and this group will get a nice work out Sunday afternoon against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. At least for one or two series, before Manning tiptoes off the field to take his geriatric supplements.
This could be a critical game in the Alex Boone holdout saga. A good, solid showing by his replacement Joe Looney will put a lot of pressure on Boone to show up for camp or face a lost year, or even a year as a backup when he finally does report for duty. It’s possible Boone wants to force a trade, so he can get big money elsewhere, either as a guard or the more lucrative tackle position. His days as a Niner seem numbered, any way this unfolds.